Continuing on with our DANMite Series:
On March 12, 2012, artist, hacker and game developer, James B. Pollack came into the KZSC station to talk about his upcoming installation entitled, be there ( at this year’s UCSC DANM MFA exhibition, I’ve Got Something On Your Mind.

“be there” has two components, virtual and physical, both of which consider the problems of persistence and presence. The virtual part ( is an interactive, web-browser based multi-user three-dimensional environment. Users acquire sculptures by navigating the sculpture’s length as strange and special creatures called neshamot. The physical part of “be there” is the electroplating of organic materials with certain floral elements as a way of interrogating exosomatic desire.

Here’s the video of our radio interview:

James is from outside of Chicago. He studied English & Creative Writing at Yale before joining the Playable Fictions Project group at UCSC. James is also a part of the Expressive Intelligence Studio in the Jack Baskin School of Engineering. His work has been blogged about by the New Yorker Magazine and appears in several international collections of digital art. Last year, an interactive piece called “the harp aeolian” showed for two months at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.

As  mentioned “be there” is built completely in the cloud (amazon ec2), which means it’s scalable to meet any potential user demand, independent of physical hardware (tens or hundreds of thousands of users). uses edge web technologies like webGL, node.js, and redis to allow a realtime, connected experience. it is built on completely open source technologies, and invites others to contribute to its growing codebase through social coding communities like github.

James is currently working with a team of undergraduate researchers through the School of Engineering (expressive intelligence studio) & running a research group where these students get credit for working with me to develop the javascript techniques necessary to create this piece.

The physical part of “be there” is the electroplating of organic materials. He will copperplate certain floral elements as a way of interrogating exosomatic desire. These elements will be represented in the virtual world (by applying metallic shaders to in-game objects).

At the MFA exhibition, these physical objects will be placed in the room with a display & terminals for interacting with the piece.

This year’s UCSC DANM MFA Exhibition, I’ve Got Something On Your Mind happening April 28-29 and May 3-6 with the reception, Friday, May 4, 5:30 – 8:30PM. The Gallery is open from 10AM – 4PM and located at The Digital Arts Research Center (DARC), off Meyer Drive near the Music Recital Hall and Theater Arts on West Campus.

If you missed any part of our Gamers on Game broadcast, please click the gray ‘play’ button below: [haiku url=”″ title=”James B. Pollack” graphical=”true”]


I'm a radioactive media making artivist working every day to make the world a better place.

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